BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
Bob and Linda Snyder found success on the Catawba Peninsula over the years because of their hard work, and their love for the area. After her husband’s sudden death last April after a heart attack, his vision of giving back to the communities still lives on at Portage Resale Center in Port Clinton.
“It all began 11 years ago when Bob looked to create a way to give back to a community that has given us so much,” said Linda Snyder. “He wanted to develop a center that would provide quality goods at truly affordable prices, and then give all of the profits the business made back to the community.”
The couple didn’t beat around the bush. There were people in need, and every penny the Portage Resale Center earned from its sales throughout the year was donated to non-profit and service agencies that really needed their help.
Heading into its second decade this weekend, more than 40 agencies have received $847,640.59!
“I don’t know where that 59 cents came from,” said Snyder, with a smile. “We keep tight books, right to the penny.
When Portage Resale Center finally reaches the million-dollar mark, everyone in town will know it, she said.
“What an accomplishment that will be.”
The Portage Resale Center is a team effort, though. Linda Snyder is acting president now, and heads a 10-person board with Vice-President Heather Stouffer of the prestigious Catawba Island Club, where Stouffer has been a part of the CIC staff since her early college years.
Stouffer is proud of creating the Portage Resale Center Youth Council, with students from Ottawa County high schools selected to learn about the local economy, its non-profit agencies, and volunteering to help make Portage Resale Center a success.
Bob Snyder had found success on the Catawba Peninsula over the years. He may have been the first garbage collection company on Catawba, he is now known for his developments such as Catawba Bay and Marshes Edge, where a pristine wetlands and expensive homes were neighbors. The Snyders live there, as well, and manage the Snyder Group of Companies, which included Catawba Mini-Storage.
“Bob always felt developers should be home grown, and live among the people who buy their homes,” said Linda Snyder. “Eleven years ago Bob wanted to give back to the community, and decided Portage Resale Center would be his vehicle to do that.”
The first Portage Resale Center took over four rooms of the Portage Elementary School across the street from the Port Clinton Airport, which closed in 2008. There was no profit motive, just the dream of helping other people and agencies succeed.
Bringing together donors, volunteers and shoppers, the Snyders soon outgrew the little Portage School space, thanks to community organizations and businesses that supported them.
When the Heineman Family donated a building that was formerly the Heinemann Distributing Company in downtown Port Clinton, the Snyders and friends relied on more than 30 regular volunteers to make the spacious Portal Resale Center a resounding success. Many more helped when they could, if only for an hour or two during a morning or afternoon.
The quality of their goods certainly helped. Teaming with United Way, they hand out vouchers to people who need a suit and tie for a job interview or a first day of work, or a high school girl wanting to go to her prom. The Portage Resale Center Youth Council helps students from low-income families with gift cards that fund everything from needed clothes and school supplies to school trips the families struggle to afford.
Managing a large group of volunteers is like herding cats, and for the first decade Manager Mary Maine had been the only full-time employee of Portage Resale Center. Spencer Wright came aboard to do a lot of the transporting and heavy lifting.
Cheryl Ross, a retired medical official, had moved to Port Clinton to be close to her kids. She liked to walk the city streets, admire the Portage River and Lake Erie, and renovate a small house in Port Clinton.
To make new friends, on a lark she decided to volunteer at Portage Resale Center.
“I wasn’t sure, at first,” said Ross. “Over the years in the medical industry, my job had been keeping an operating room humming with a million-dollar inventory that ranged from bandages to heart monitors. But I’d never had to operate a cash register before.”
Or unload cars, trucks and heavy boxes. That tested her strength and stamina. Steaming clothes and sanitizing goods, and managing a staff were right up her alley.
“The shop takes in gently used items and sells them at affordable prices that are presented in a department store atmosphere by devoted volunteers. Many local folks support our mission by volunteering, donating goods, or shopping,” said Linda Snyder. “We’re eager to have people help us make our 10th year our best year yet.”